Smart Living Tip: Top flat hunting search sites

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In any city or country I have lived in, there has always been at least one go-to site for almost everything. Before I move to a new place, I try to find out the most popular site to start my searches early on. Even before beginning the actual house searches, I limit my searches to a handful of areas, making it easier to focus without getting overwhelmed with pages of so many unfamiliar area names.
In New Zealand it's TradeMe. Every Kiwi knows about it. I have used it to buy/sell textbooks and hunt for new flatmates in my uni days, to buy secondhand toys, and even to search for job openings. In an eBay style, every buyer/seller has an account to build credibility, with comments and ratings. It's free to join, but may have small service fees when your item is sold successfully, for example.

If I were to move back to Auckland Central, my suburbs of note would be: Mt Eden, Newton, Freemans Bay.

In Australia, it's Gumtree. Not as stylish in design as TradeMe, and it's primarily a buy/sell point. I found my Melbourne menage thanks to Gumtree. One visit and pizza dinner together, and I was in love, with the house and the lovely housemates sharing it. I also looked out for a bike, but I never ended up getting one, too scared to risk my clumsy self on the Melbourne roads. 

I only had one choice of suburb in Melbourne in mind: hipster hotspot Brunwick.

In Paris, I used Facebook and the university network for the apartment and job, actually. Sometimes Craigslist came in handy, but of course, to be used with caution. I'd say all online trades should be used carefully, but when there is a language barrier and you are alone in a foreign land, it becomes doubly important. That being said, I found two incredible internships during my year in Paris online - though I ended up letting go of one of them. 

Cool places to live in Paris: le Marais, St Canal de Martin, Republique.

Again in France, I relied heavily on Le Bon Coin for my current Bordeaux abode. It did take a while longer than in most cities to get this place. I think it was mostly due to the timing, being summer when no one was here, then suddenly nearing back-to-school, with everyone trying to secure a roof over their heads. I thought of going though an agency to help me out, but in the end, decided that wasn't my style, and I stuck it out until, luckily, an ideal apartment came up. 

Advised areas in Bordeaux: Chartrons, St Pierre, Hotel de Ville.
Sometimes flat hunting takes time, and with it, patience. Don't get discouraged you don't find the perfect place on your first visit. Perhaps your expectations are too high. Central city is convenient with easy access to work and play locations, but the places may be smaller, noisier, and more expensive. Be realistic on how much you want to spend, and what that amount is going to get you. 

Perhaps even more important than the location and price of your new apartment, is who you are going to share your new space with. For me, sharing a bigger house with one or couple of housemates has always been more attractive than living alone in a tiny studio. Living alone, I found myself picking up weird habits such as reading out aloud to myself, and eating quickly, messily, unhealthily. 

Or maybe you are joining up with your other half to start a life together. That's great news, but make sure you understand that sharing a place with others means sometimes compromising, and sharing roles. Such as cleaning. I've been in both cases where I was the 'only' cleaner in the household, and also always 'never' one. Things don't end up well, in either cases. 

Your new housemate becomes your new family. Take time to do things together, like Monday movie nights, weekend brunches, grocery trips. I can't wait for my housemate to get back home from his Spanish trip, already. I'm starving!

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